*John’s love for racing and its people is palpable. The strength of the racing community can offer comfort to many who work within the industry and that common interest can be a vital thread that brings people together to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
For John, the support he has received from Racing Welfare to move to housing in Newmarket and to be immersed in the racing culture is what has helped him overcome feelings of depression and loneliness.
Racing Welfare offer housing to many people of retired age and he has recently moved to Newmarket from Cheltenham with substantial support from the welfare team. John says:
“I retired in 1990 having worked at various racecourses. Initially I was invited to go to the Racing Welfare coffee mornings at Cheltenham, it was lovely, the Racing Welfare staff were so nice and so welcoming. You couldn’t meet more lovely and personable people. I was quite lonely as I had some personal situations which were disastrous and I finished up with virtually nothing but I still have a sense of humour. I was lonely though and I wasn’t in Racing Welfare housing at the time, I was on my own.
John struggled with depression when he found the environment he lived in to be challenging:
“I have been depressed, people don’t understand depression and they don’t understand how mentally ill you can get even if you seem perfectly normal. Racing Welfare then helped me apply for a house to get out of where I was and I was accepted. I wanted to be in a community that I know and the house in Newmarket came up and I’ve changed one hundred percent.
“I have moved around 50 times in my life and the thought of moving all your stuff is a nightmare, moving was difficult but once I’d moved it was fine. Racing Welfare helped me with a grant to move and it was a God send. It was marvellous, I felt so relieved. The place is lovely. It is beautifully decorated and all my stuff fitted in perfectly. I was so grateful and at the charity the people really stood up, I was overcome with emotion. I have now been here over a month and met local people.
John has also been receiving check-in and chat calls once a week from a volunteer:
“The check in calls have been fantastic, the welfare side has really helped with my loneliness, for me I get the call every Thursday without fail from the volunteer. She’s really lovely and really cares about what she does. She helped to get me out of this malaise I was in.
“My experience of Racing Welfare has been first class and the people have been fantastic. I have recommended Racing Welfare to lots of people and having been involved with lots of charities in my career, I know they are second to none.”
*The name of the beneficiary has been changed to maintain anonymity.